Since I started my digital marketing career in 2009, I’ve seen a number of marketing mistakes made by various professionals and companies. In this series of posts I lay out a path on how to get started with digital marketing. I’ll also take this series further by presenting more advanced and niche marketing concepts, that go beyond the basics. My hope is that this series will help those who wish to level up their marketing. I’m going to format the main points in these blog posts as questions. These are the questions a business owner or professional should ask if they want to do a great job with their marketing.

To jump straight to a specific question in this blog post, you can select from one of the options below:

  1. Do I Need Digital Marketing, And If So, Why?
  2. Should I Do The Marketing Myself, Or Hire Someone?
  3. What Type of Digital Marketing Should I Do?
  4. What Is Inbound Marketing And Should I Do It?

1. Do I Need Digital Marketing, And If So, Why?

Chances are you will need to do some digital marketing. Here are some reasons why I say that, along with exceptions.

Reasons to Get Started With Digital Marketing

  • Online SalesYou generate online sales. Do you sell products online? How about an online training course or virtual services, such as some type of consulting? If that’s the case, you need to do digital marketing to drive prospective buyers to your buying funnel.
  • You need to acquire more leads. Maybe you don’t sell anything online, but you do need to acquire leads from the internet. These leads may be captured through a contact form, direct messages on social media, by simply encouraging a prospective buyer to call you, or something else. If those types of leads are something you want, then digital marketing is appropriate for you.
  • You wish to build your personal brand. Maybe you don’t care about sales or leads right now. But perhaps you want to be a big name and an influencer in your industry. Perhaps you want to get into politics, or to become an author, or speaker, or something of that nature. In that case, building your digital footprint (and personal marketing) is important.
  • You need to control your online reputation. This is similar to the last point, but a little different. In general, do you want to control what people see when they Google you? This can be especially relevant if something unsavory shows up on Google when you search your name. How do you make that negative search result go away, and replace it with something positive? Digital marketing can resolve this issue.
  • On the flip side, if you have all the business you want, have a solid online reputation and you aren’t concerned about controlling what people see when they Google you, then you’re probably fine with not doing digital marketing. This is especially true if you primarily generate your business by word of mouth and don’t have capacity to handle more work. This is also assuming you don’t have plans to grow your business further.

In most cases, if you want people to find you, and you want to look good online, then digital marketing is for you.

If you want people to find you, and you want to look good online, then digital marketing is for you. #JLM #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet

Common Marketing Mistake

Many business owners decide not to do marketing, and literally invest no budget into their online presence and outreach. I believe this is a mistake. And I’m not alone. Even the small business administration says businesses should invest in their marketing, if they want to be successful. Here’s a blog post on How to Set A Marketing Budget For Your Business.

Planning Marketing BudgetA Piece of Marketing Advice For You

Maybe you’re reading this and you say you’re fine how you are, and you don’t want to do marketing. If that’s the case, okay. But, if you do want to control your online presence and generate leads or sales from the internet, consider putting in about 5-15% of your gross revenue in digital marketing for one year. See how it goes. You might be surprised at the results you generate after seriously doing marketing for a year, even at a percentage described above.

2. Should I Do The Marketing Myself, Or Hire Someone?

Business owners often don’t know how best to invest their time or money on marketing. As a result, mistakes are often made and opportunities are often missed. So, here are some tips.

Start Your Digital Marketing

  • Do it yourself. This is certainly a viable option for many. But here’s the catch; make sure you do plenty of research on best practices before you actually start doing your own marketing. If you don’t, you could make mistakes that end up hurting you. Alternatively, not doing proper research can result in missed opportunities to boost your business. If you have time to do it yourself, then great! Do it. If you find you don’t have time, then hire someone.
  • Hire a freelancer. Freelancers can be very affordable. However, there are a few potential challenges to be aware of. First, it can be difficult to find a freelancer who truly understands all forms of digital marketing you want done. For example, building websites, designing websites, and making websites rank well on Google are three different areas of specialization. Don’t assume one freelance “developer” will be able to do a good job with the “design” and make the website “rank well” on Google. Hire based on the specific need. Also, make sure you hire a quality freelancer. If you go with as cheap as you can get, you may end up spending more in the long run. Find a good balance between quality and affordability, based on your current needs. By the way, if you want an effective website, take a look at this Website Checklist.
  • Hire an agency. Agencies are more likely to be able to handle all aspects of your marketing. The overall quality will also likely be better than if you hired a freelancer. That’s not a guarantee, but it’s often the case. However, agencies are frequently about two to four times more expensive than a freelancer. Make sure you don’t settle with the first agency you find. Look for a few options, compare their quality to each other, compare pricing, take a look at their reviews and make an educated decision. Paying more for an agency can be worth it. But make sure the quality and convenience is worth the cost. If it is, this will likely be the best long-term marketing solution for you.

If you want to learn more about the points listed above, read our blog post titled Should You Hire A Freelancer, Agency or an In-House Marketing Team?

Common Marketing Mistake

Outsourcing Marketing WorkMany business owners decide to do marketing themselves, but end up not having the time to do it, or to do it well. Don’t make this mistake. They will also hire a freelancer and then give them various marketing tasks that aren’t in alignment with the freelancer’s skill set. Or, they may hire an agency and spend too much, when they could have gotten equally good results, or better results, at a more affordable price.

A Piece of Marketing Advice

If you don’t have time to do quality work, and actually do what needs to be done, then hire someone. And if you hire someone, make sure they’re suited to actually do the work you’re needing from them. And if you hire an agency, make sure they get good results and have reasonable pricing. Do a little research on them and take a look at their reviews and their own online marketing presence. If they can’t do a good job for themselves, how can you expect them to do a good job for you?

If you don’t have time to do quality work, and actually do what needs to be done, then hire someone. #marketingtips #JLM Click To Tweet

3. What Type of Digital Marketing Should I Do?

This is one of the most important questions that should be asked and I often see overlooked. Here’s the thing… you don’t want to just do any ole form of marketing that you’ve heard about and feel like is appropriate for you. If you’re going to invest money or time on marketing, then you need to make sure you’re putting it in a form of marketing that will generate the best possible results for your business.

Popular Marketing Channels

  • Traditional Marketing. Many new businesses instantly think of getting a billboard. First of all, in most industries you’ll need to spend about $619 for every one lead you acquire through traditional marketing. This includes billboards, commercials, radio, etc. That’s a lot of money to spend to get one lead. And to clarify, a lead is not a sale. Statistically it takes five leads to get a single sale.
  • Social Media Marketing. This is another super popular form of marketing. Also, it has a drastically better average cost per lead than you would get from traditional marketing. One reason it’s so popular is because it has a very low barrier of entry. If you want to do social media, just create a social media account and start marketing. But, make sure you follow social media marketing best practices. Many new business owners will do social media, but do it poorly, simply because they treat it like their own social media account, rather than understanding best practices and strategy.
  • Google Ads. You can pay Google to show up at the top of search results. There are pros and cons to doing this. But, if done well, it can certainly bring in good leads and sales. Make sure, as with anything else, you do this strategically. Also, expect to invest around $1,000 to $2,000+ per month to get the most out of this form of digital marketing.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is another wonderful form of marketing. But it also has pros and cons. Again, follow best practices. And if you outsource this to someone, make absolutely sure they have good results and testimonials from past or current clients. There are a lot of people who say they know how to do SEO and can do it very inexpensively, but end up wasting your money. Don’t fall victim to a scam. Learn more about SEO by reading our FAQs About Search Engine Optimization.

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Identify the right marketing channelsCommon Marketing Mistake

Above are some of the most popular forms of marketing. But the mistake is blindly just doing one or two of them, without really considering your options and best practices for each. You need to make sure you put your money or time in the marketing channel that’ll help you the most. So, don’t do social media just because the barrier of entry is low. And don’t just do a billboard because it’s popular.

A Piece of Marketing Advice

When you plan out your marketing do some research on which marketing channels are best for your industry. Then, consider your budget and see what you can afford. If you can’t afford a particular form of marketing, then don’t try and do it with a budget that won’t suffice. Do what you can afford, and what makes sense, based on your target audience.

If you can’t afford a particular form of marketing, then don’t try and do it with a budget that won’t suffice. #marketingtips #JLM Click To Tweet

4. What is Inbound Marketing And Should I Do It?

Let me explain this by telling you what it isn’t. The opposite of inbound marketing is outbound marketing. Here are some examples of how outbound marketing works.

Outbound Marketing Examples

  • Commercials. You’re watching television and next thing you know there’s a series of commercials being pushed out to you. They have interrupted your program and are trying to get your attention.
  • Telemarketing. Imagine going through your day, and then you get a phone call, not knowing who it’s coming from. You answer the phone to be met with either a human or a recording of someone trying to get you to make a purchase or take some other action. Your day has been interrupted by the call, as the caller tries to sell you.
  • Pop-ups. You land on a website, only to be instantly interrupted by a pop-up as soon as the website loads. You probably instantly look for the little X in the top right corner. If you can’t find it, you look for “No Thanks” or some text along those lines, to make the pop-up go away.

Ultimately, outbound marketing is a form of marketing that interrupts your activity and tries to push you into taking some sort of action. This may be to get you to make a purchase, to subscribe, or something else of that nature. You aren’t looking for the product or service being pushed upon you. You don’t necessarily want it. But, the advertiser is hoping that by seeing the ad, you’ll end up deciding to make a purchase or take an action.

Inbound marketing is different. Rather than pushing for your attention, it actually focuses on trying to pull you in, because you want it.

Inbound Marketing Examples

  • Marketing Channel IconsBlogging. You decide to cook something at home and do a Google search for a recipe that fits your mood. You find an article and it calls for a specific ingredient from a particular brand. Because the recipe mentions that brand specifically, you go to the grocery store and purchase it. The blog post sold you on the idea of making the recipe you saw, and you were pulled into purchasing the ingredient and brand that was mentioned in the recipe. You did this because you wanted your meal to look as amazing and perfect as what you read about.
  • Social Media. Sticking with the food example, you see a restaurant that keeps putting out incredible pictures of delicious food. The more you see it, the more you want to eat that food. They are simply sharing their pictures. They aren’t even necessarily telling you to come buy the food. But, as time passes, you end up finding yourself sitting down at that restaurant. The pictures pulled you in through social media, and gave you what you ultimately wanted… the delicious food.
  • Search Engine Marketing. You do a Google search for “how to find a good financial advisor” and see a list of results. Some might be paid results, in the form of ads. Others might be organic results. But either way, you’ll see about 10 to 14 different options to choose from on Google before you even click to look at the second page of Google. These are all great options and you aren’t really being interrupted from your activity. Rather, great websites are trying to offer up exactly what you’re looking for, in an attempt to meet your needs. Then, when you land on a website, you will likely be encouraged to contact the website owner to get help with your financial planning or investing.

While outbound marketing typically interrupts you to push a product or service in front of you, inbound marketing tries to pull you in, by being there when you search for a product or services. This form of marketing is typically far more cost effective. There are exceptions though. For example, a website pop-up isn’t expensive to install on your website.

Common Marketing Mistake

Many businesses owners think of outbound marketing as the way to go, because it’s been around for thousands of years. It’s extremely well established and very popular. However, the return on investment isn’t nearly as good for outbound marketing as it is for inbound marketing. That’s a general rule of thumb to consider.

A Piece of Marketing Advice

Rather than going with a form of outbound marketing, which is also referred to as push marketing, consider doing inbound marketing. This is also called pull marketing. You’ll most likely end up saving money and getting greater bang for your buck. Also, I’m not saying outbound marketing doesn’t have a place within a marketing plan. But, in most cases, it’s not the most strategic form of marketing for the typical small business. If you already dominate the market though, and you want to further promote your brand recognition, then outbound marketing makes more sense. That’s not the situation I see with most small business owners though.

The return on investment isn’t nearly as good for outbound marketing as it is for inbound marketing. #MarketingTips #JLM Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts on Getting Started With Digital Marketing

Make sure you have a solid plan for your marketing. If you’re going to spend time or money, make sure you’re doing it wisely with the greatest chance of generating positive results. If you want some help getting started with digital marketing, considering hiring a consultant. They should be able to guide you and help you get the results you need, so you see continued growth and positive return on investment.

If you’d like us to help you with your marketing strategy, we’d be happy to have a conversation about this. You can connect with us via the contact form below. Otherwise, good luck with your marketing, and if you need help at a later time, we’re here for you! By the way, this blog post is a form of inbound marketing. You read it because you wanted to learn about this topic and you likely found us through Google or social media. Then, at the end, I invited you to use us if you want help. It wasn’t pushy. It was just a thoughtful no-pressure introduction to Joshua Lyons Marketing, along with an invitation to contact and possibly hire us.


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As the founder of Joshua Lyons Marketing, Josh Lyons primarily focuses on business development. He has studied and practiced marketing since 2008 and launched his first company (a marketing agency in Pensacola, Florida) in 2015. When he's not writing blog posts, recording podcasts or consulting, he enjoys spending time with family and friends. He loves listening to audiobooks and checking out different coffee shops. He also enjoys fire juggling, amigurumi, travel and swing dancing; which is how he met his wife.



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